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Creating a greater good

Posted: March 1st, 2014 | Featured, News, Real Estate Corner | 2 Comments

Creating a greater good

Local real estate business works to give back

Dave Schwab | Downtown News

Downtown Realtor David Stone cares.

So much so, Stone is willing to donate 10 percent of his commissions toward charitable causes.

David Stone (center in purple) with Photocharity staff (Courtesy Jeff Sitcov)

David Stone (center in purple) with Photocharity staff (Courtesy Jeff Sitcov)

“When my wife and I started this brokerage a little over two years ago we wanted to start something that resonated with us, that felt good,” Stone said. “That was giving back.”

Ever since, the Stones have faithfully contributed to numerous local charities.

“It’s been everything form Monarch School [serving K-12 students impacted by homelessness] to Kid’s Court to Mama’s Kitchen [benefiting AIDS victims],” Stone said.

The Stones’ business name, Greater Good, reflects the couples’ philanthropic bent.

“We spent time trying to determine a name that we thought truly was what we were doing, what we were trying to accomplish,” Stone said. “Fortunately, that domain was available as well as the phone number 619-GREATER (473-2837) that we also have.”

Their business name “Greater Good” also fits well with their business tag line, “providing expert real estate services with a passion for community.”

A printer-turned Realtor and Pittsburgh native who came to San Diego by way of Chicago, Ill., Stone is also a hat aficionado.

“That’s my schtick,” he said, sporting one of his daily headpieces, which hang on the wall of his office at 639 Kettner Blvd. between G Street and Harbor Drive and adjacent to the trolley track.

Stone talked about the criteria the couple use when choosing charities to donate to.

“First we want them to be truly local organizations,” he said. “Number two, children and teens resonate more with us, so we enjoy participating with types of organizations that serve those groups.”

The Stones have some lofty goals for their philanthropy.

“We’ve stated from day one that we want to be the first real estate company to be able to donate more than $1 million to charity,” Stone said.

How near are they to achieving that goal?

“Nowhere close,” Stone answered with a laugh, but he was quick to add they’ve only been at it a couple of years.

“We’ve contributed tens of thousands of dollars, slicing off and donating from every [real estate] transaction,” he said. “We’ve put $10,000 into our donation account so that when we stumble upon organizations like Photocharity, we’re able to donate. It’s not like we have to sell so many houses this month to be able to donate. We want to make sure that we’re proactive in our savings for charities.”

One charity on the receiving end of the Stones’ largess is Photocharity, a nonprofit that rescues homeless teens from the street.

Photocharity is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for charitable organizations that empower youth to make better choices. Homeless and disadvantaged youth have been the group’s prime area of focus over the organization’s 12-plus years. Youth benefit through fundraising events, public outreach and programs that include public speaking, music and photography.

“David Stone has got a big heart,” said Jeffrey Sitcov, owner/founder of Photocharity, about one of his 40 or so patrons whom he calls “angels.”

“He [Stone] actually went to the walk we had last year and was very touched listening to homeless youth speaking,” Sitcov said. “He said, ‘I want to help more.’ Now he’s one of our major sponsors.”

Sitcov noted Photocharity needs to “find more people like David Stone,” to help reduce the shockingly high number of approximately 3,000 homeless teens countywide.

“We go out on the streets and find these kids and bring them into shelters,” he said, adding that Photocharity also offers kids a way out of homelessness through its award-winning music and arts program, as well as providing other wrap-around services such as free medical.

“We give them a hand-up, not a handout,” Sitcov said. “People have no clue there are that many of those kids in our community because they’re hidden. It’s mind boggling that there’s no place for these kids to go.”

Sitcov said Photocharity has an excellent track record in rescuing homeless youth.

“We’ve helped 1,800 kids get into housing,” he said. “We just need to find more David Stones so that we can help more kids.”

Sitcov and his patrons, including Stone, are gearing up for Photocharity’s big fundraising gala, May 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the Del Mar Hilton Hotel. For more information about Photocharity and its activities, visit photocharity.org.

Stone said the 10 percent figure they use for charitable donations is just a round number to work with. He hopes he and his wife’s charitable giving can be sustainable.

“Will it go up in the future? Hopefully. Will it go down? Hopefully not,” he said. “It’s [10 percent] just a good solid number that people will recognize and appreciate and know that it’s not nickels and dimes, that it’s real dollars that are going back to the community.”

Is the Stones’ model for charitable donation something that can be replicated?

“Absolutely,” Stone said. “There are other organizations — not necessarily in the real estate industry — that have their philanthropic divisions and endeavors.”

While he understands not everyone can give the same amount that he and his wife have committed to do, Stone said there are ways we all can help others in need.

“It doesn’t have to be 10 percent,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be one percent. If you have the funds to do it — then go ahead.”

Stone noted there are other ways, short of money, to contribute to charity.

“You can do sweat equity, like participating in organizations like Habitat For Humanity, where you don’t have to donate money,” he suggested. “You just donate your time, muscle and sweat to make it happen. If everyone did that, just think of the difference we could make.”

For more information about the Stones and their boutique Downtown San Diego real estate office, call 619-473-2837) or visit greatergoodrealty.com.

Dave Schwab came to San Diego 30 years ago with a journalism degree from Michigan State University and has worked and freelanced for numerous dailies, weeklies and other regional publications. He can be reached at dschwabie@journalist.com

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